Today Thrillist reviewed Reactee, an innovative t-shirt company that lets you buy a custom printed t-shirt, along with a unique Keyword. When someone reads your shirt, they can text a message into Reactee's shortcode with your unique keyword. The message is then forwarded on to you.
Thrillist explains just who these t-shirts are aimed at:
Though they're fun for all, Reactee shirts were originally designed for performers (DJs, musicians, mimes) looking to share gig info, and protesters organizing anti-Starbucks riots.
Reactee has a nice design tool at their website, which allows you to edit/design/and redesign your shirt until it's perfect--you see the results in real-time. When you're ready you check out, you pay a single price ($20) for the shirt, the keyword, and the service to forward responses to your own phone. Very cool.
Daily Variety has a story about the vast number of votes cast during the recent season of American Idol:
Voters turned out in record numbers for the sixth edition of Fox's "American Idol."
Overall, 609 million votes were cast through the five-month run of the show, besting last year's top figure of 578 million, according to Telescope, the Los Angeles-based company that processes the "Idol" votes. When the show started in 2002, 110 million votes were phoned.
Those vote totals include SMS entries. Last year the number of text votes were out of this world:
Last year, 64.5 million SMS messages were sent via Cingular.
Exact numbers on SMS votes aren't available yet, but you can bet they were huge, especially when you consider this:
This year, the company launched new "Idol"-themed content, in the form of video and other downloads, to encourage more customers to use its new mobile offerings.
Guardian writer Victor Keegan has written today about why mobile content providers have been able to generate greater revenues than their brethren on the web:
Revenues from the web are about $25bn (£12.5bn) but the content on mobile networks is reckoned by Informa to be worth $31bn - and that is before music and mobile TV take off in a big way.
Tomi Ahonen, a strategy consultant, points out that whereas porn and gambling drove revenues on the internet, five content groups are more successful than adult material on mobile phones: music, infotainment, images, videogames and web browsing. He reminds us that in 2005 one annoying ringtone, Crazy Frog, outsold all of iTunes. A key reason is that most content on the web is free whereas mobile phones arrived with a payment system pre-installed for calls, followed by a premium service for texting. If the web had had its own payment system it would have taken a different course.
mocoNews.net is reporting on an interesting development in the nascent Mobile TV arena:
Rentrak, a company specialized in measuring TV viewing, has sealed a deal with mobile TV provider Hiwire to measure mobile TV viewing. Rentrak will provide Hiwire—a subsidiary of Aloha Partners, the largest owner of 700 MHz spectrum in the U.S.—with information on total viewers of video programming and of video ads on mobile phones. This data will no doubt be the ace in the hands of TV networks providing content to mobile TV providers as they seek to sell ads in mobile content.
For the past three years the Mobile Entertainment Forum has been handing out awards in the mobile sector ranging from best handset to best music service. After a quote, we'll take a look at the short-listed candidates:
From Maidenhead to Moscow to Mumbai, this year’s Meffys entries revealed an incredible global diversity, proving that these awards have become an established fixture on the international mobile entertainment industry’s calendar.
Rimma Perelmuter, MEF Executive Director, said: “This year’s entries proved that the mobile entertainment industry is set to meet its global revenue target of $38 billion by 2011, with an array of applications and services that make it easy and appealing for the consumer to discover and purchase content on the go. The stage is now set for an amazing awards show in Monte Carlo which is a fitting location to showcase the leading mobile entertainment companies from around the world.”
And now, for the nominees:
The Games Award
Digital Chocolate – “Tornado Mania!”
Glu Mobile – “Brain Genius™”
Electronic Arts – “UEFA Champions League 2006-2007”
Gameloft – “Miami Nights”
I-play – “The Fast and The Furious Tokyo”
The Music Service Award
Omnifone – “MusicStation”
Mercora – “Mercora M”
Hingi – “Hear It ‘N’ Get It”
Groove Mobile – “3 MusicStore"
Orange – “Orange Music Store powered by Musiwave”
The Artist Campaign Award
Sony Ericsson – “Christina Aguilera campaign 2006”
Nokia – “Dirty Pretty Tunes: Nokia N91 launch”
Endemol Digital Media – “Get Close to…Sugababes”
Parlophone/New Visions – “Lily Allen Mobile Site”
Mercury Music Group – “Ludacris Three Front Room”
The TV & Video Service Award
The Hyperfactory – “Adidas +10 Challenge 3G Campaign”
Endemol Digital Media – “Get Close to…Sugababes”
KTF-MBC-Net&TV – “Mobile TV Project”
QUALCOMM – “MediaFLO System”
Rhythm NewMedia – “World’s First Ad-supported Video”
The Technology Innovation Award
Bango – “Bango BillRank Technology”
Alltel Wireless – “Celltop”
Graphico New Media – “Momentum Mobile Platform”
Realeyes 3D – “Motionized™ Handset”
ShoZu Inc – “ShoZu”
The Content Award
Refresh Mobile – “Mobizines”
Hungama Mobile – “Kingfisher Mobile Calendar”
Fox Mobile Entertainment / Jamba – “Boratisodes”
Endemol Digital Media – “Get Close to…Sugababes”
Player X – “geekTV”
The Innovative Business Model Award
3 UK – “Ad-funded Content on 3UK”
AdMob – “AdMob Marketplace”
Amobee – “Amobee Media System”
Muzicall – “RBT.4.ALL Programme”
MX Telecom – “Unified Short Codes”
The Communities & UGC Award
Orange – “Buff or Rough?”
Jumbuck Entertainment – “Fast Flirting”
Loop Mobile – “MOKO”
Pitch Entertainment Group – “Pitch”
Mowave – “Self Central”
The Search & Discovery Award
MCN – “DoCoMo D903i FM Radio Search”
mobilePeople – “liquid mobile search”
InfoSpace Europe – “InfoSpace Mobile Search”
Orange – “Orange Mobile Search”
Roundbox – “TV Guide Mobile ESG”
The Handset Application Award
Didiom LLC – “Didiom”
NewBay Software – “PIXOTA”
ShoZu – “ShoZu”
Sprint – “Sprint NFL Mobile”
Roundbox – “TV Guide Mobile ESG”
The Marketing Campaign Award
Qwikker – “Branded Mobile Application”
Hungama Mobile – “Hutch & Casino Royale Campaign”
The Hyperfactory – “Johnson & Johnson DEFINE 3G Campaign”
Nokia – “Music Recommenders”
Vibes Media – “Vibes Media’s Pirates Campaign”
The Mobile Entertainment Handset Award
Nokia – “N95”
Sony Ericsson – “W880”
HTC – “HTC Advantage”
The Mobile Entertainment Operator Award
3 UK – “X-Series”
Orange – “Content Everywhere“
Telenor Norway – “Mobile Entertainment for Customer Empowerment”
Last week Reuters ran a story on the prospects of the mobile advertising market--all signs point to extraordinary growth.
The more than $500 million mobile advertising market looks set to multiply in just a few years, helped by new technologies and the spread of more advanced phones.
"It will certainly be in the $4.5 to $5 billion range in terms of the marketplace (in five years)," he said, adding that estimates for the annual market now range from $500 million to $900 million.
"I think you need to be there. That's money that's coming from some place. It's coming from other media," Falco said.
Strategy Analytics, one of the most cautious forecasters on mobile advertising market growth, has forecast global mobile advertising market will reach $574 million this year and grow almost three-fold by 2010.
Today's issue of the Washington Post covered the ways that younger people are using text messaging. The Washington Post text messaging article profiles Love, an area nightclub, and Club Texting client:
Some local nightclubs already have figured out how to use text messaging to reach their young partygoers with instant news about upcoming entertainment. Ti' Jean Beezer, assistant to Love owner Marc Barnes, said he often uses the Web site clubtexting.com, which is designed to help nightclubs promote their events through text messaging. Beezer said he gets cellphone numbers from patrons and regularly enters them onto a database at the site. He can type one message and reach 1,000 patrons at once.
"You don't have to worry about doing it yourself, texting one by one, thousands of people," Beezer said. "It's very effective."
When Philadelphia Style Magazine decided it was time to build a deeper relationship with their customers, they turned to Club Texting to set up a text messaging subscription service.
Philadelphia Style Magazine is the city's premier lifestyle and fashion publication. They deliver inside information to an affluent 25 - 45 year-old subscriber base.
Goal: Build Up A Customer Database Rich With Demographic Data. Collect demographic data from customers to enhance database.
Strategy For Success: Incentivized Call-To-Action Campaign--Online, In Print, and On Site. Offers to customers include:
- Last-Minute Event Notification. Example: Happy Hour.
- Sweepstakes. Example: First five people to text back win a fabulous prize.
- Added Value: Notify subscribers of upcoming advertiser sales and promotions.
Call To Action (CTA): Text STYLE to CLUBS (25827) and receive alerts for special STYLE events and exclusive sweepstakes!
- Offered first 50 text subscribers a gift certificate for a free appetizer & cocktail at the restaurant of their choice. This offer was seen in the following places:
- Included CTA in a promo page announcing the launch of the Style Club Texting service in the March/April issue.
- Reinforced the campaign launch in subscriber email newsletter.
- Added CTA to the signature of all employee emails.
- Integrated list subscription process into Style Club website registration procedure.
- Handed out VIP cards with CTA at past Philly Style events, such as issue launch parties. Future events include Center City 6, a popular Philadelphia after-work happy hour series.
- Sent out a street team to hand out VIP cards with CTA in high-traffic locales, such as parks and popular dining districts.
- Enhanced data collection:
- Customers provide home address and other demographic information in exchange for special offers.
- Data can be collected via customer SMS response.
Outcome: Within two months of implementation, Philly Style Magazine has reached their target number of subscribers. With Club Texting's help, they achieved their goals with little effort, and little upfront investment.
If you'd like to see your success story, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
The Hill newspaper is reporting that Hillary Clinton's campaign will be using text messages to reach out to potential supporters. While the adoption of text messaging will not present as dramatic a change to the nature of campaigns as the rise of the Internet did a few years ago, change is certainly afoot.
“By harnessing the power of text messaging, we can engage voters in the political process using the latest technology and provide personalized, local campaign updates to our supporters nationwide,” Clinton said. “This is an exciting step forward that I hope will continue our conversation with voters in a new format.”
Her campaign announced Monday that the new technology takes Clinton’s commitment to reaching out to voters “to a whole new level.” The campaign noted that there are 236 million cell phone users in the U.S. and that 18.7 billion text messages were sent in December 2006.
Those who sign up for the service will receive updates on Clinton’s campaign, including pictures.
The USA Today OnPolitics Blog has some other details:
According to an e-mail from campaign spokesman Phil Singer, those who text the word "JOIN" to 77007 can expect:
• "Regular updates from Hillary while she is on the road (messages, photos, etc)."
• "Local updates about campaign events in their area."
• To be asked "for their input."
If you've been looking in to text messaging for your business, chances are you've come across two acronyms--SMS and SMTP. They refer to two very different types of messages, and today we're going to break down the important differences. First, we need to define the two acronyms.
SMTP - Simple Mail Transport Protocol. SMTP is the standard for email on the internet and it's over 25 years old! Most cell phones are able to receive text messages in this format. In essence the phone receives an email, and in fact, a message delivered in this fashion is sent to an address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMS - Short Message Service. SMS is a message system designed for cellular phones. Unlike email, SMS messages are sent to phone numbers, not addresses. They are routed through a gateway, which connects directly to the carrier's network. For our discussion SMS can be seen as interchangeable with SMPP--the Short Message Peer to Peer Protocol.
If you are looking into commercial text messaging, you need to be looking at SMS. Why? There are a number of reasons, and now we are going to explore them.
- An SMS message is sent via a gateway directly to the cell phone carrier, while an SMTP message, like any other email, bounces from server to server (this can often happen a half-dozen times) before it arrives.
- SMS messages travel over a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and are thus secure, while SMTP messages travel unencrypted around the Internet.
- Cell phone carriers (often reluctantly) deliver SMTP messages for free, while they charge a toll for SMS messages. Because they charge this toll, carriers have a much greater incentive to make sure SMS messages are delivered in a timely fashion. Further, as these messages are routed directly through their computers, carriers can provide you with delivery information--messages which do not arrive are called bounces. With SMTP you never know if your messages arrive.
- Perhaps the greatest benefit of SMS messaging over SMTP messaging is its two-way nature. This allows your subscribers to respond to messages you send them. More than just a value-adding feature, two-way capability is necessary for commercial messaging under current United States case law.
The fourth point--about the law--leads us to an important discussion. In 2003, Congress enacted the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act to curb spam. As required by the Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that prohibit sending unwanted commercial e-mail messages to wireless devices without prior permission. This ban took effect in March 2005. The FCC’s ban covered messages sent to cell phones and pagers, if the message used an Internet address that included an Internet domain name (as seen in my Cingular example above).
The FCC’s ban did not cover “short messages,” typically sent from one mobile phone to another, that do not use an Internet address (such as an SMS/SMPP message). To help enforce its ban, the FCC required wireless service providers to provide all Internet domain names used to transmit electronic messages to wireless devices. The FCC published this list on its Web site. Senders were prohibited from sending commercial e-mail messages to any Internet domain name on this list without the recipient’s express prior authorization.
In other words, the SMTP protocol is pretty heavily regulated when it comes to sending messages to subscribers who did not give their “express prior authorization.” However, the CAN-SPAM Act provided no regulation when it came to the SMPP protocol. Still, that doesn’t mean that you are free and clear with SMPP, thanks in large part to a widely interpreted provision of the Television Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
One of the articles of The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), includes sending text messages to cell phones using an automatic telephone dialing system. The TCPA prohibits the sending of such messages “to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged” 47 U.S.C. §227 (b)(1)(A)(iii).
This prohibition encompasses both voice calls and text calls, including SMS messages sent to wireless phone numbers. While it might be argued that that the SMPP protocol is not an automatic telephone dialing system, this is still a legal gray area. Moreover, the underlying directive of the TCPA can be easily extended to include the SMPP protocol, which didn’t exist when the law was initially instated. The intent of the TCPA was to make sure that consumers expressly consent to automated calls or messages sent to wireless devices given that consumers may be charged to receive such calls or messages. Since the act covers such a wide range of devices (at the time, wireless messages were meant for pagers), it is definitely possible that newer wireless technology also falls under these general guidelines. The key again is the notion of “express written consent”, which, in the case of text messaging, means some sort of opt-in proof.
With SMS/SMPP customers can reply to messages, which is essential to the Double Opt-In process. With Club Texting's Service, new subscribers to your list receive a confirmation text message. By replying to this message, they have Double Opted In, which is commonly accepted in the industry as proof of written consent. This Double Opt In process simply does not exist in an SMTP scenario.
When you put it all together, you can see that SMS offers you more reliable delivery, secure messaging, carrier support, extended information, and most importantly, legal protection. While there are still businesses that offer SMTP messaging, flouting the law, the pennies you might save are hardly worthwhile.
The other day we came across an interesting editorial at Chief Marketer. Columnist Lane Michel opines on the current state of mobile ad spending, and what the future will bring. The article is worth a full read, but we've got some excerpts:
Will mobile phone advertising be intrusive or a boon for the consumer? That debate, which has been building, is about to boil over as wireless phone companies and advertisers run tests.
From today’s $3 billion in mobile advertising spending, ABI Research projects that spending to grow to $19 billion by 2011.
That growth will not come without challenges though:
To consumers, that could translate into many unwanted messages and interruptions on a device most consider very personal.
Despite these challenges, Michel recognizes that the potential is simply to great for them not to be overcome:
Every call made, every text message sent, every Web page surfed from the mobile device is attributable to you, the owner of the phone having a contract with a wireless phone company. It doesn’t take too many leaps to realize that your wireless provider knows where you live and what you do. All phones have GPS tracking as mandated by the FCC for emergency call locating. The behavioral information collected, or that can be collected, about you is what the advertising industry is so interested in.
It’s the holy grail of advertising to make a direct personal ad that gets a direct purchase connection. This is about as close as it gets.
He sees a successful future for advertisers who understand grouped needs, who set up permission systems, who responsively learn, and who build positive consumer experiences.
For more, read the entire article.
It's May and the baseball season has already been going on for an entire month, but it's never too late for news like this:
Text publishing and advertising platform developer 4INFO announced a free service that delivers Major League Baseball scores and player alerts to mobile handsets. The service includes event-triggered text alerts assembling pitching and offensive statistics for teams and individual players, including hits, runs, RBIs and roster and injury status. "For true baseball fans, watching the game is only half the fun. Knowing exactly how every play affects a player's stats can be more exciting than a final game score, especially to those in fantasy leagues," said 4INFO director of product development Ted Burns.
Microsoft continues to edge its way in to the Mobile Commerce arena. First, we reported a few weeks ago on the software giant's purchase of TellMe, and now we hear that they have snatched up ScreenTonic SA:
MICROSOFT IS ACQUIRING EUROPEAN MOBILE advertising company ScreenTonic SA in a bid to expand its mobile expertise--and intends to use the company as an eventual springboard to offer global mobile services.
"The mobile Internet is an extraordinary vehicle for brands to connect with their target audiences, because devices like cell phones enable interaction to take place virtually anywhere or anytime," said Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft. "The acquisition will be part of our long-term strategy to deliver ad experiences that map to the environment." (MediaPost OnlineMediaDaily)
In other news, FierceMobileContent is reporting that Hearst Magazines will be launching some new mobile properties. What is interesting about this announcement is who Hearst is hoping to reach with this content:
Publisher Hearst Magazines and mobile technology and services company Crisp Wireless announced an agreement to launch three new made-for-mobile websites targeting women over the age of 35. The Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful and Redbook sites promise interactive mobile tools like calculators, quizzes, wallpapers, user-generated content and search services.
As text messaging has proliferated, it was only a matter of time before some tech-savvy artist figured out a way to integrate the power of SMS into a piece of art. Enter TXTUal Healing:
TXTUal Healing is an interactive public theater piece. It looks at the cell phone as a device not just to remove oneself from a physical space, but to interact with and explore it.
Using 'always on' technology, cell phones with SMS allow an audience to interact with public space through projections on the structures that surround us, like the facade of a building for instance. The Speech bubbles are positioned near windows and doors to encourage an audience to create the conversations happening inside. The public audience receives a flyer with a cell number and simple instructions. A participant sends a text message to the provided phone number and it is then displayed inside the speech bubble. Multiple bubbles may be used and the audience can direct their input to a specific bubble.
The piece explores the use of mobile technology to trigger dialogue, action and create content for a staged public performance. By using the facade of a building the intention is to engage an audience to think about the physical spaces we move through, live in and share. I'm trying to address public vs. private space and what kind of dialogue might transpire if we shared out private thoughts. The piece was designed to encourage play, idea sharing, thought, discourse, and entertainment.
Some cool examples:
- Graffiti in the style of the famous Jesus Saves, on the sides of Brooklyn apartment buildings.
- An interactive, text-bubbled Last Supper: One Of Your Will Betray Me
- And, in a cool juxtaposition of the past and the present, text messages projected on the walls of the Roman Coliseum.
When Portland, Oregon's Rose Quarter decided that they wanted to find more effective, cost efficient promotional tools, they looked to text messaging. After a bit of early apprehension, they decided to go for it; the results speak for themselves:
...when the Rose Quarter was mulling over text messaging, one of the major issues wasn't the cost, but the size of the database, and whether to wait until the database had fattened up before management moved forward.
"We started with 3,000 people," Eric Blankenship, Global Spectrum Director of Marketing at the Rose Quarter, told Pollstar. "That was what we wrestled with. Do we want to wait until it's 10,000? Do we want to wait until it's 15,000? And we didn't. We have 3,000 people who want our message via text messaging. Let's give it to them."
The Rose Quarter launched its first round of text messaging with a ticket presale announcing the June 13th Faith Hill / Tim McGraw Soul2Soul date at Portland's Rose Garden Arena. All 3,000 participants received a password and Web link to purchase tickets before the general public.
How did it go?
"Through text messaging alone, we sold $25,000 worth of tickets on the first day," Blankenship said. "Again, it goes back to, ‘Should we do something with the 3,000 people or should we wait until its bigger?' If we had waited a little bit we wouldn't have sold $25,000 worth of tickets. So, for us it was good."
You can read the full article at Pollstar.
Who needs MovieFone when you can get local movie listings text messaged to your phone?
The MovieConnect application invites consumers to sign up to receive text messages directly from rich media ad units. Essentially, by "rolling over" a PointRoll unit, consumers can enter their mobile number and ZIP code to receive local listings and showtimes directly on their mobile device when they become available.
The goal of MovieConnect is also to create targeted advertising with a local focus that can help studios and theaters buff ticket sales and enable tracking of individual customer interaction and behavior.
Read the entire article at MediaPost Online Media Daily.
Messaging services provider 4INFO announced the launch of what it calls the industry's first marketplace for SMS advertising:
The 4INFO Advertising Marketplace platform will enable marketers to include targeted advertising within SMS content from 4INFO's mobile services as well as partners including USA Today, Spark Networks and TV Guide.
Read more at FierceMobileContent.
And finally, in an example showing just how deeply text messaging has become a part of American society, the AP is reporting that the NCAA has approved a ban on text messaging between coaches and recruits. (Via Textually.org)
AT&T reported their 1st quarter earnings the other day, and it looks like Ma Bell has found her footing in the 21st Century:
AT&T reported first-quarter profits of $2.8 billion, an increase credited in part to mobile data service revenues generated by text messaging, web browsing and content downloads. AT&T's total wireless revenues grew 11.2 percent in the first quarter to $10 billion, with wireless data revenues increasing 66.8 percent over Q1 2006 to $1.5 billion. The former Cingular's wireless operations counted more than 33 million active data customers, up more than 30 percent over year-ago numbers, and delivered close to 230 million multimedia messages and 14 billion text messages. (Via FierceMobileContent)
You can read AT&T's entire press release at their corporate site.
New York City's popular Tribeca Film Festival will be offering up something new (and exciting) this Spring:
The Tribeca Film Festival announced it will deliver trailers, shorts and full-length features to handsets via Verizon Wireless, heralding the annual event's first venture into the mobile content arena. The festival, which begins April 25 and continues for 12 days around New York City, will distribute to wireless devices three current festival full-length features, three short films, 49 movie trailers and three additional short films created exclusively for mobile consumption. Tribeca will also alert attendees of private screenings by sending wireless barcode tickets to their phones, and will launch text-based mobile movie reviews. (Fierce Mobile Content)
If you happen to come to NYC for the Tribeca Film Festival, then you might see some special new Pepsi billboards--they light up and beam messages to your phone!
Pepsi has mashed up an outdoor ad to be interactive and mobile. Pepsi ads at 120 transit shelters in Los Angeles, Washington, New York, Pittsburgh and Denver through May 31 send a message to any nearby Bluetooth-enabled phone, offering free music videos.
If the user accepts, the bus shelter poster lights up and video is sent. In New York, the video opens with Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon, who introduces three local singers. The ad closes with the address for a related website: pepsismash.com, which has video and music downloads as well. (USA Today)
If you attended college in the last five years, chances are you are familiar with www.Campusfood.com, or a similar online ordering system. For those of you who are a bit older, it works like this. Joe student is sitting in his dorm. He is hungry (and perhaps likely intoxicated). Finding a menu, a phone, and talking to a human being = very difficult. Enter Campusfood.com. Log on to the website, browse the menus of restaurants delivering to your campus, click on the items you want, and click buy. Your order is forwarded to the restaurant of your choosing and within the hour, your food arrives.
Perhaps you don't see the difference, perhaps it's a generational thing--whatever the case, Campusfood is insanely popular on many, many college campuses (and yes, they arrange deliveries to nearby apartments and homes.)
Now we hear that Campusfood will be rolling out text message ordering. How might that work? Let's turn to their press release--which Textually.org rightfully recognizes as "quite remarkable. It's on a campusfood.com webpage, with a PR text, YouTube video explaining their services, a link to the podcast and all the geeky logos to digg, del.icio.us, reddit and facebook." On to the press release:
Campusfood.com’s new online TXT/SMS service is available through all major carriers including Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile and Sprint by TXTing a Favorite to the 36368 shortcode. The restaurant receives the order like any other Campusfood.com order. Users can set up their Favorites on the website for easy one-click ordering. Both SMS/TXT and one-click ordering are free services to Campusfood.com customers.
One more reason to wish you were still in college.
Today's New York Times has a story about a new company called ShopText, who hope to revolutionize impulse buying:
A company called ShopText has introduced a system that lets people buy products instantly using text messages, a process that eliminates the need to go to a store or even visit a Web site. For instance, a woman seeing an ad for a pocketbook in a magazine can order it on the spot simply by sending the text code found beside the item through her cellphone.
Amazingly, they have already signed up a number of high-profile clients for their service:
Consumers can already use text messages to buy some products. Ads for the new CD by singer Tim McGraw carry a texting code, as do magazine writeups for the new Harry Potter novel coming this summer. Some concert halls are selling tickets by text message, and some charities are taking donations that way.
CosmoGirl magazine will feature text-message codes throughout its June/July issue, both in the advertising and editorial pages. And Stuff magazine is introducing text-to-buy on products like CDs, DVDs and video games featured in its pages.
Alas, it is not as seamless an experience as the Times first hints:
To use the system, a consumer must first place a phone call to ShopText to set up an account, specifying a shipping address and card account. After that, all purchases can be made by thumb.
When ShopText receives text messages about donations or products, it charges the credit card it has on file for the buyer, then, if appropriate, sends the product from one of its warehouses around the country.
If they can hook up their system to directly bill customers through their carriers, then they'll find themselves in excellent position to truly revolutionize the modern shopping experience.